Study: Wildfires having devastating effect on air quality in western US

The Guardian: Wildfires having devastating effect on air quality in western US, study finds. Blazes, intensified by the climate crisis, are reversing decades of gains in cutting air pollution, scientists report.

Increasingly ferocious wildfires in the western US are taking a devastating toll on the region’s air quality, with wildfire smoke now accounting for half of all air pollution during the worst wildfire years, according to a new study.

Scientists from Stanford University and the University of California, San Diego, found that toxic plumes of smoke, which can blanket western states for weeks when wildfires are raging, are reversing decades of gains in cutting air pollution. While heat-related deaths have previously been predicted as the worst consequence of the climate crisis, researchers say that air pollution caused by smoke could be just as deadly.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, combined data from satellite images of smoke plumes with measurements obtained from air monitors on the ground, which record local air pollution, to model the total smoke exposure. The study comprised all states west of (and including) New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.

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